Religious Encounters (1)
Wandering around Helsingborg with the Danish ex around Christmas time, I encountered my first proselytisers. The experience was surreal for me. The ones around Sheffield just stand around their little setup, never approaching you. They know what they’re doing – they are there for disappointment, for abuse.
My ex was visibly angry. He was often angry at benign encounters. Very angry. Verbally violently angry. Threats and all. I thought it was culture… but, it wasn’t.
Something about this experience made me see something interesting. Despite being a part of the Christian Science Church for so long, we were never taught to go out and recruit. Not at my Sunday School at least. I was never old enough to attend church – you had to be 20 or 21. Not that wine was involved. The religion practices a complete denial of the physical world.
These girls were 16? 17? I’m not sure now. They were in Sweden with their church. I suspected many things. We had an interesting conversation that clearly made the ex extremely uncomfortable. Religious beliefs, practices, and traditions crossed my mind a lot throughout the relationship. It was strange to me that he would want a baptism, a confirmation, to pay taxes to a church but not to attend church and deny a believe in god. But he could spit on those girls for practising their beliefs.
I mean, I felt bad for them. For his actions. For what was being done to them in life. For the problems they would likely face down the road. Empathy is one of the few ways to resolve the brainwashing of extreme religions. We are taught to expect this sort of violence, this sort of behaviour, from those who are not One Of Us. So the walls are built when people act horribly to us. We stick to our own, even if it’s bad for us.
It is a common theme throughout so many social interactions. “If you are extreme or hold extreme beliefs or some kind of weirdness, I must force you to submit to what is normal or shame or humiliate you into some form of acceptable behaviour” – this style of behaviour enforcement is extremely popular despite that it can backfire, that it doesn’t work, that it creates more problems than it resolves.